It’s got to be done. Brace yourself for some links. Maybe bookmark the page for later but never actually read it. That’s what we’d do.
- England got the bat-on-ball to ball-on-stump ratio wrong and were bowled out for 51 by Jerome Taylor.
- Sir Allen Stanford was found to be the kind of guy who’d step over a heart attack victim in order to return their shopping trolley to get the quid from out of it. He was charged with fraud.
- Weirdly, nothing happened in September. There wasn’t a seven match one-day series or anything.
Hopefully no-one’s told him yet and hopefully he never realises, but England’s performance hinges on how well Graeme Swann plays.
Obviously, taking nine wickets for not a lot had a huge impact on how England won this Test, but nowadays Swann HAS to perform.
That’s not because England’s other bowlers are mediocre. They’re not. It’s because England are only picking four bowlers and Swann is therefore bowling far more than a quarter of his side’s overs. If he bowls badly, the seamers have to get through more work, meaning they bowl worse.
On top of that, being the sole spinner, Swann’s got to be the man taking wickets on fifth day pitches as well. His batting is merely a bonus.
We move that all words such as ‘talisman’ and ‘linchpin’ be reclaimed from Andrew Flintoff and are instead applied to the chinny tweaker.
We wrote about Shane Watson and Ian Bell over at The Wisden Cricketer. We said that they weren’t hugely popular in their respective countries, perhaps because they were overly serious. We also said that Shane Watson couldn’t bowl.
Shortly after the post went up, both Bell and Watson scored hundreds and the commenters have laid into us, saying that these hundreds prove our article wrong somehow. You’ll love it. We get called an idiot, childish and are advised to stop working.
Also, if you want to see a spectacularly clunking repetition of the phrase ‘all manner of’ in an article about people taking guard in ludicrous and implausible ways, take a look at our latest piece for Cricinfo.
Basically, through ambush.
They plod along, being solid and unspectacular and then in one innings in the field, they completely steamroller the opposition.
Think of England’s wins since Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss took over. West Indies were rolled for 152 at Lord’s; the same opponents were dispatched for 176 at Chester-le-Street; Australia 215 at Lord’s and 160 at The Oval; and now South Africa are in more than a bit of strife at 76-6.
It’s blunt, sudden and totally excessive. It’s like England are ambling around town for the afternoon, doing a bit of shopping, when suddenly they call in an airstrike on Poundland and make off with the products that remain.
Let’s examine the Ian Bell fact. You know the one: he only scores hundreds when someone else in the England batting line-up has already made one.
This has just happened against South Africa. Alastair Cook was first and then Ian Bell outstripped him with 141. Let’s just say that the above criticism does not apply today. Ian Bell can’t help what happens before he comes to the crease and he can’t do much more than make a hundred, so today he’s done very well.
So save the Ian Bell fact. Save it for when he fails. That’s when it means something. It’s not the hundreds he does score that are the problem, it’s those he doesn’t score. A second hundred in an innings is actually pretty handy and puts England in a far better position to go for a win.
Kevin Pietersen doesn’t have a weakness against left-arm spin. Not directly anyway. Kevin Pietersen’s weakness is that sometimes he thinks he could travel to the moon without a vehicle or oxygen.
All players have a confidence range. Sometimes they’re up, sometimes they’re down, but the extremes aren’t the same for all players.
For example, you want Andrew Strauss to be as confident as possible, because when he’s nervy, he gets out. Kevin Pietersen’s optimum level of confidence is in the mid to low end of his range. Kevin Pietersen is at his most vulnerable when he’s on 185 and he’s just switch-hit a six or when a left-arm spinner who doesn’t turn it much comes on to bowl.
When faced with Paul Harris, Ryan Hinds or Yuvraj Singh, KP assumes that he’ll middle every ball. As a consequence, he doesn’t consider playing across the line at a ball delivered straight at the stumps is in any way dangerous.
At our most confident, we feel like there’s a healthy chance that we won’t walk into a door frame. We can never aim much higher than that.
Opening batsmen always talk about developing ‘an understanding’ with their opening partner.
Shane Watson and Simon Katich should try and understand that batsmen should end up at opposite ends when running between the wickets.
We hope Australia never drop Shane Watson. He blends haplessness, incompetence, misfortune and childish petulance. It’s a heady cocktail.
Last Test he jumped up and down like a five-year-old when he dismissed Chris Gayle and everyone had to look away because it was so embarrassing. This Test, he’s contrived to run himself out for 93 to follow the 96 and the 89 that he made in the previous two Tests.
To Shane Watson [raises glass].
We’ve always said that Shane Watson always looks on the verge of tears. Chris Gayle agrees.
Gayle says that Watson’s easy to wind up. “He only looks big and strong but he’s soft.”
But how soft? We already know that Watson’s so soft he has to sleep in Brett Lee’s room when he thinks he’s in a haunted castle, but surely he’s even softer than that.
We’d say that Shane Watson is so soft that if he were wearing one of those children’s coats which features a pair of mittens on a string, he’d cry if one of the mittens got lost up a sleeve.
Anyone want to raise us on that?
Jo Fitz writes:
South Africa – pah – let’s concentrate on the real midwinter battle – Chris Hollins v Ricky Whittle.
When The Cat got knocked out in week 9, the inevitability that a cricketer always wins Strictly Come Dancing seemed to have been proved wrong.
But the best kept secret was that Chris Hollins is a cricketer – and tonight his destiny was fulfilled.
I rest my case.
What, like as a prize or something?
No. Highveld Lions are a South African domestic side.
So he’s not being paid in big cats then?
Are you keeping an eye on his performances?
So how’s he been doing? Why haven’t you reported anything?
Er, well… he’s been okay.
Would you say that he’s taken 15 wickets at an average of 39.06?
Do you think that this question and answer format made this non-news any more palatable for the readers?
Not really. A couple of them might have got further down the page before they realised nothing was going to happen though.
Won’t they just be more annoyed because of that?
Is that what really matters to you? That you’ve got on people’s nerves more than usual?
Yes. That is one of the few things that makes us happy.